After a five-day break, the ASU men’s basketball team is back on the road for a rematch with DePaul in Chicago on Friday.
The Sun Devils (7-2) look to avenge their 78-61 home loss to the Blue Demons (4-3) last season, a defeat that proved to be detrimental to ASU’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament.
The Sun Devils may need to pull it off without their star point guard, redshirt sophomore Jahii Carson.
According to The Arizona Republic, Carson had been limited in practice all week and is questionable for Friday’s game.
Carson suffered a sprained ankle during Sunday’s 60-57 loss to Miami in the Wooden Legacy and played through it to finish the game. He didn’t score a single point in the second half.
Should Carson not play, freshman Chance Murray and redshirt freshman Calaen Robinson will share time at point in Carson’s place.
Murray is averaging four points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 11.4 minutes per game. Murray turned the ball over just twice in the first nine games of the season.
Robinson is averaging 1.9 points, 1.5 rebounds and an assist in 6.9 minutes per game. In ASU’s 90-54 win over Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 12, Robinson dropped 11 points in 11 minutes.
In the first meeting between the two teams last season, the Sun Devils shot just 3-for-15 from the 3-point line and were a dismal 8-for-19 from the free-throw line. Although DePaul had 10 more shot attempts than ASU, the Blue Demons outrebounded the Sun Devils 44-34 in that game.
DePaul returns several key players from last year. Senior guard Brandon Young had 18 points and nine assists against ASU in the first game, while 6-foot-8 senior forward Cleveland Melvin had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
This year, the Blue Demons are shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from the perimeter for an average of 78.4 points per game. As ASU has gone through rebounding issues to start the season, DePaul is outrebounding its opponents by three boards per game.
The Blue Demons, fresh off the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, is riding a two-game losing streak from a 90-72 loss to Wichita State on Nov. 25 and a 77-59 loss to Texas the day after.
In order for ASU to come out of Chicago with a win, the Sun Devils must close out DePaul’s shooters on the perimeter. Other ASU players will need to score even if Carson is healthy, so expect Murray, senior guard Jermaine Marshall, senior center Jordan Bachynski and junior forward Jonathan Gilling (if he can fix his shooting slump) to pick up the scoring load.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion